"The Sunday Five" is a loosely-titled piece where I talk about five NFL- or Browns-related topics related to this past week. In today's edition, we take a look at the differences between last year's training camp and this year's, and the rumored trades that have been floating around regarding a couple of wide receivers.
What a difference a year makes. The Cleveland Browns training camp schedule for the 2012 NFL season was released to the public on June 21, and the first scheduled practice open to the public will be on July 28. In 2011, due to the lockout, the schedule for training camp was not even released until July 28, with the first practice taking place three days later. July 28 is a little over a month away, so our annual positional previews will begin to appear over the next couple of weeks.
How much things were rushed last offseason, coupled with the lack of communication coaches had with their players, make for some of the reasons why you have to be patient with head coach Pat Shurmur to see what he offers in year two. Remember, last year, much of the "offseason" for some of these players consisted of Colt McCoy trying to learn and teach part of a playbook on various practice fields. This year, before training camp even begins, Brandon Weeden and Trent Richardson have already gotten "the little things" out of the way and should be prepared to jump right into the first-team offense.
I still have a tough time describing what the Browns should do with their receiver situation. For example, when the hypothetical Percy Harvin situation came up, one of the reasons I don't stand up and say "sure, we need him" is because I don't know where a new guy would fit in. Here is what I ask myself. First, are the Browns committed to having Greg Little as their No. 1 receiver? Yes. Are they verbally committed to having Mohamed Massaquoi as their No. 2 receiver? Yes. Harvin would seem to fit best in the slot, but can't we find one guy between Jordan Norwood, Joshua Cribbs, Travis Benjamin, and Josh Cooper to fill that role? Norwood did pretty well in limited action last year, Cribbs had a career year in receiving, Benjamin is a 2012 draft pick, and Cooper is your dark horse. Can you just shove all of those guys aside for some new guy? I know we want top talent here, but it almost seems like we have defined roles for everyone already. Unless an elite receiver comes in, and by that, I mean a current No. 1 receiver from another team, I don't see how they make a world of a difference.
Another trade that some fans seemed to float around recently is the Browns' Colt McCoy for the Packers' James Jones. Originating from a report by Mary Kay Cabot, Pro Football Talk relays that the Browns aren't interested in acquiring Jones, and their reasoning is pretty much the same as what I explained above. I think the Browns should continue to be patient with how they handle a possible trade involving McCoy. McCoy should make it into training camp, and into the regular season if a grand deal does not present itself to Cleveland (and by grand, I am referring to something more than a sixth-round draft pick). We are committed to Brandon Weeden, and if Shurmur really liked Thaddeius Lewis, a trade would be a good way to get him more meaningful reps later in camp.
So...time for a little off-topic here: I heard this guy named LeBron James won an NBA Championship this past week, and it got me to thinking: which player on the Browns would cause just as much devastation if he were to leave if offered a good contract? We can't say Joe Thomas, because he already signed a new deal. There's no real "elite" stars who post a threat to leaving, nor have there been very many over the past decade+. I guess you could say Peyton Hillis was a coveted player to some fans who went elsewhere, but it was for only $3 million and he would've come back had the Browns offered something better. Phil Dawson and Joshua Cribbs have each made power plays in the past for higher contracts. In both cases, I think the fans were upset at the front office for not rewarding the players sooner. Football is too much of a different sport, I suppose; off the top of my head, I can't think of many instances involving other players around the league (although Harvin might have been a light case of it).